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‘Glee’ Stars: Where Are They Now Photo Timeline

‘Glee’ Stars: Where Are They Now Photo Timeline

‘Glee’s success was almost eclipsed by its many controversies. See Lea Michele and more stars from the hit show.

Glee premiered on FOX on May 19, 2009 and changed TV forever. The show was an instant sensation, launching careers and kicking off six seasons of choir covers.

Glee helped kick off the careers of Lea Michele, Darren Criss, and Naya Rivera. And the Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk-crafted show delighted fans with a parade of A-List singing guests, like Gwyneth Paltrow, Neil Patrick Harris, and Idina Menzel. The cast won a SAG Award for Outstanding Ensemble cast in their first season and stars like Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer walked away with Emmy and Golden Globe awards during the show’s historic run.

While things appeared in perfect harmony on screen, the Glee family has dealt with more than its fair share of controversy. Star Cory Monteith died in 2013 of a drug overdose and in Jul. 2020, Naya Rivera drowned while swimming with her son. And since Glee wrapped, reports of on-set rivalries and bullying by Lea Michele emerged from several sources.

A lot has happened since the show ended on March 20, 2015. Learn more about where all of your favorite Gleeks are today in our gallery here.

1 of 13

‘Glee’ Stars: Where Are They Now Photo Timeline

Lea Michele shot to superstardom with Glee, taking the lead role as the high school vocal diva, Rachel Berry. Rachel was one of the six founding members of the William McKinley High Glee Club, where she made life long friends and fell in love with quarterback, Finn Hudson. Over the course of the shows six seasons, Lea’s character took center stage frequently, typically to belt out iconic showtunes, Barbra Streisand ballads, and Broadway classics. While the show was on air, she dated co-star Cory Monteith, who sadly died before the fifth season premiered. 

Today, Lea Michele is living a life her character Rachel would have surely dreamed about. She has put out four studio albums, had countless movie roles, and even starred in Funny Girl on Broadway, just like her hero Babs. She married Zandy Reich in 2019 and the pair welcomed a son in Aug. 2020.

While Glee gave Lea everything she wanted and more, the star faced accusations of bullying long after the show ended. In June 2020, Lea was put on blast after her Glee co-star Samantha Marie Ware accused her of racist behavior during her time on the show’s set. Other bullying accounts followed, prompting Lea to share an apology. Though she denied judging others by “their background or color of their skin,” she said the accusations made her reflect on how her “own behavior towards fellow cast members was perceived by them.”

April 7, 2021, 4:57PM 2 of 13

‘Glee’ Stars: Where Are They Now Photo Timeline

©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett C

Cory Monteith was Glee’s original heartthrob, starring as the lovable yet dim football star, Finn Hudson. An accomplished musician, Cory would often play the drums along with singing on the shows rock anthems, when he wasn’t singing duets with on and off-screen girlfriend, Lea Michele. At the height of the show’s success, Cory entered rehab for drug addiction in March 2013. Sadly, just a few months later, Cory was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room in July 2013. His death was addressed on the show in an episode entitled “The Quarterback.”

April 7, 2021, 4:57PM 3 of 13

‘Glee’ Stars: Where Are They Now Photo Timeline

Matthew Morrison brought Glee club director Will Schuester to life right from the pilot episode. A rising Broadway star, Matthew played the charming, unlucky-in-love teacher who helped his students realize their dreams in song. Throughout the show, Will had many, A-List love interests, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Kristin Chenoweth. However, Will ultimately married Emma Pillsbury, played by Jayma Mays

After Glee wrapped, Matthew Morrison didn’t stop being a mover and shaker. In April 2015, he returned to Broadway as J.M Barrie in the musical adaptation of Finding Neverland. As of 2023, he has released three studio albums and judged the reality dance competitions The Greatest Dancer on BBC One, and So You Think You Can Dance on Fox.

In 2014, he married Renee Puente. The pair have two kids.

April 7, 2021, 4:57PM 4 of 13

‘Glee’ Stars: Where Are They Now Photo Timeline

©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett C

Naya Rivera was a successful child actress when she joined the cast of Glee, having starred on shows like Family Matters, Baywatch, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. When she was first cast on the musical show, her character was a cold-hearted, bullying cheerleader, who caused mostly problems for the glee crew. However, by the time the show was picked up for a second season, she was promoted to a series regular, her character Santana was revealed to be gay, making her much more relatable.

Naya’s life ended in tragedy. On July 8, 2020, she rented a boat to take out on Lake Piru, northwest of Los Angeles, with her four-year-old son Josey Hollis Dorsey. Just three hours later, another boater found the child in the boat by himself. A search party was quickly underway for Naya, however many authorities believed she was presumed dead. Her body was recovered and she was confirmed dead on July 13.

April 7, 2021, 4:57PM 5 of 13

‘Glee’ Stars: Where Are They Now Photo Timeline

Amber Riley, who ironically auditioned, but was passed on for American Idol during the show’s second season, made a real name for herself when she joined Glee in 2009. She was cast in the role of Mercedes Jones, a powerhouse performer who was best know of her killer ballad performances like “And I Am Telling You’, ‘Spotlight’ and ‘ I Will Always Love You’.

Amber Riley’s love for the stage has kept her in the spotlight on London’s West End. From 2016 to 1017, she played the pivotal role of Effie White in the revival of Dreamgirls, to rave reviews. In 2013, Amber was partnered with Derek Hough on Dancing With the Stars. They went on to win, making her the first African-American woman to win the mirror ball trophy. Amber continued to flex her reality TV credentials in 2022, when she won season 8 of The Masked Singer as “The Harp.”

April 7, 2021, 4:57PM 6 of 13

‘Glee’ Stars: Where Are They Now Photo Timeline

20th Century Fox Licensing/Merch

Mark Salling was cast as a series regular for Glee from the pilot episode, as Noah Puckerman, a gruff, bullying football star that sleeps with his best friend’s girl. Over time, he found he had a voice and place amongst the Glee club and was one of the male lead singers.

After the show ended, Mark found himself accused of sexual battery, and in December 2015, he was arrested and charged with possession of child sexual abuse material. Mark pleaded guilty to the charges in 2017, but before he received his sentence, he took his own life.

April 7, 2021, 4:57PM 7 of 13

‘Glee’ Stars: Where Are They Now Photo Timeline

Jane Lynch was such a standout during Glee. She earned two Emmys and countless raves as the fierce and sarcastic cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester. As the show’s main villain, she often tortured the Glee club in ridiculous ways, constantly coming up with outrageous nicknames and jokes at their expense. She sang infrequently, but her performances were always memorable, including a recreation of Madonna’s iconic Vogue video.

Today, Jane enjoys a thriving acting career, in film and in television. She hosted the Emmy-winning game show Hollywood Game Night for six seasons and she’s a regular on the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, even winning an Emmy for the role.

April 7, 2021, 4:57PM 8 of 13

‘Glee’ Stars: Where Are They Now Photo Timeline

Heather Morris

Before being cast on Glee, Heather Morris was already known as one of the top dancers in the business. She was one of Beyoncé’s backup dancers on The Beyoncé Experience world tour, performing with her around the globe and on big shows like SNL.

On Glee, she starred as Brittany S. Pierce, a dim-witted cheerleader whose big heart and incredible dance moves brought an electric element to the group. Brittany fell in love with her best friend Santana, and the two shared a beautiful romance throughout the show that ended with them getting married. 

After Glee ended, Heather Morris took a pause from performing. In 2017, she returned to star on Dancing With The Stars, a decision that was heavily criticized by fans of the show given her dancing background. In 2022, she won the second season of Fox’s The Masked Dancer.

April 7, 2021, 4:57PM 9 of 13

‘Glee’ Stars: Where Are They Now Photo Timeline

Dianna Agron

Dianna Agron had several small roles in shows like Veronica Mars, Heroes, and CSI, before landing on Glee, but it was her role as Quinn on the show that made her a household name. Quinn was a prime & proper cheerleader, who finds herself pregnant in her sophomore year with her boyfriend’s best friend’s baby. She gives the baby up for adoption, then spends the rest of her high school years a wild journey of self-discovery. By the 4th season, Dianna was listed as a guest star and only made brief appearances going forward, including the series finale.  

Today, Dianna Agron enjoys a very exciting acting career. She has co-starred alongside Hollywood heavyweights like Robert DeNiro, Lena Headey, Minnie Driver and more one some incredible indie films. Making sure to keep busy, she has also continued singing and touring.

April 7, 2021, 4:57PM 10 of 13

‘Glee’ Stars: Where Are They Now Photo Timeline

Darren Criss was one of the biggest breakout stars of the Glee cast. Joining the show in the landmark second season, Darren played Blaine Anderson, a confident, gay, private school singer who falls for Kurt. His character became so popular, he was ultimately bumped to a main cast member in season 3, with Blaine transferring schools to be with Kurt. His version of “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry was one of the show’s most successful singles. 

Darren Criss’ career has been soaring since Glee. In 2017, Darren reunited with Glee creator Ryan Murphy for the second season of American Crime Story. His performance as Andrew Cunanan earned him an Emmy, Golden Globe, and a SAG Award. He also starred in Ryan’s 2020 show Hollywood. Darren also has a robust stage career, starring in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (2012), Hedwig & The Angry Inch (2015), and American Buffalo (2022) on Broadway.

April 7, 2021, 4:57PM 11 of 13

‘Glee’ Stars: Where Are They Now Photo Timeline

Kevin McHale was best known for being in the boy band NLT, before joining the cast of Glee. Playing wheelchair-bound Artie Abrams, Kevin was a main character for the entire six-year run. Since Glee wrapped, he’s been in several music videos, including ones for Katy Perry and Betty Who. In 2018, he came out as gay and revealed his relationship with actor Austin McKenzie. In April 2019, he released a new pop jam called “Help Me Now.”

April 7, 2021, 4:57PM 12 of 13

‘Glee’ Stars: Where Are They Now Photo Timeline

Jenna Ushkowitz was another relative unknown star before Glee, though she did star alongside Lea Michele in the Broadway musical, Spring Awakening, as an understudy. Jenna played Tina Cohen-Chang, a shy and insecure performer with a stutter (that turned out to be fake) who was now of the original choir members from the pilot. Over the course of six seasons, Tina became much more outspoken and confident, and by the finale, transitions into acting as a career.

Jenna Ushkowitz turned back to the stage following Glee. She’s starred in shows like Waitress and the 24-hour Plays. She is a two-time Tony winner for a revival of the musical Once on This Island and then in 2019, the play The Inheritance. Jenna wed David Stanley in July 2021 and they welcomed daughter Emma in Jun. 2022.

April 7, 2021, 4:57PM 13 of 13

‘Glee’ Stars: Where Are They Now Photo Timeline

Chris Colfer was a complete unknown when he joined the cast of Glee. In fact, the role of Kurt, a bullied closeted gay student who comes into his own once joining the club, was created specifically for Chris after he auditioned for Ryan Murphy.

Chris went on to win a Golden Globe 2011 for his role — one of two main stars to do so. Kurt’s journey was perhaps one of the most celebrated on the show, giving a rare glimpse of what it’s like to be gay in Midwestern America. Fans particularly loved Kurt’s relationship with his straight-laced father and his romance with Blaine Anderson, played by Darren Criss. 

Chris Colfer now enjoys a thriving career as an actor and writer. Since Glee wrapped, he wrote four children’s book for his series called The Land of Stories.  He also has done guest spots on shows like Hollywood Game Night and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

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